kingdomexperiences

Non-cyclist’s guide to the KT/Burke area

We get asked ALL THE TIME for suggestions on things to do for the non-cyclists. Maybe you are traveling with your SO or another family member that doesn’t ride, maybe you are injured and need to take a break from riding, or maybe you are just heading to the area and aren’t necessarily interested in the cycling element. Read on for some great things that the area has to offer!

A day in the neighborhood  

Start the morning with pancakes and  local Vermont coffee at Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn. If you can, get a table on the porch right by the window – the views are gorgeous no matter the time of day.

Head over to Burke Mountain and prepare to take in the sprawling vistas from the top. If you’re feeling up for it, hike up the toll road, taking in the numerous look out spots the road offers. The hike takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half, from top to bottom. It is not particularly beginner-friendly, though, so avoid it if you’re not up for the challenge. Email us if you’re looking for a more beginner friendly hiking route; we’d be happy to point you in the right direction!

On your way back down the mountain road into town, do not miss stopping off at Auntie Dee Dee’s for some truly exceptional baked goods.

Take a drive to Sanderson’s Wooden Bowls, located on an idyllic farm. The owners are super friendly and will gladly go into detail regarding their woodworking process. An added bonus is that their farm also houses donkeys and Nigerian dwarf goats, making this stop fun for the whole family.

Next up is Burke Mountain Confectionery, a delightful chocolate shop in East Burke. Their truffles are out of this world, so be sure to take some home!

Just up the road is D-N-D Stables, which offers guided horse rides for those with no experience, and also non-guided horse rides for those 12 and older with previous horse riding experience. It was also named a “quintessential Vermont experience” by Trail Riding Magazine, so definitely not be missed for horse lovers!

After all that activity, it’s time for a drink! Head to the Hub Trailside, and sit outside (preferably just around sunset) overlooking the Willoughby Gap. It’s a truly perfect spot!

For dinner, take your pick of one of several great restaurants in the immediate area. Some of our favorites, in no particular order are:

Juniper’s (their salmon is delicious and we can never resist a slice of Elaine’s daily pie)

Cafe Sweet Basil (rotating specials, delicious burritos, and insane drinks & dessert)

The View Pub at Burke Hotel (delicious pub fare with creative drinks)

Foggy Goggle (their pizza is our favorite!)

Day 2 – A little R & R

Start your day with a delicious, local, and organic breakfast from the Freighthouse. We love their avocado toast topped with an egg, and their vegan protein balls. They also do delicious smoothies and have a great organic market for some goodies to being home with you.

From there, head to the Serenity Spa for a facial treatment and massage. Their facilities are brand new and their massage therapists are fantastic and can help you choose the perfect treatment for you.

After your massage, grab a good book and head to Cafe Lotti. Hunker down for a few hours  – their coffee, espresso, tea, baked goods, and panini are fantastic!

If you’re meeting up with your significant other after their ride, surprise them with a unique experience at the Willoburke Nordic Spa. You can book a private experience for two, which begins in their Finnish wood barreled sauna to stimulate blood circulation. The next step is immersing yourself in your own private cold tub, which closes your pores and helps boost the immune system. The final step is to take a dip in your private hot tub, then repeat the process!

Thanks for joining us on our weekend guide to the Burke area for non-cyclists! Please let us know what you would like to see next.

The Kingdom Experience

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

Kingdom Trails is known for having some of the best singletrack in the world. Beyond the trail though is what takes your trip from a great biking adventure to an experience that will stick with you for a lifetime. We wrap all that into an amazing and authentic weekend with local food, drink, guides and of course world class singletrack!

FAST FACTS
– Most abilities welcome from Intermediate to Intermediate/Advanced riders
– Great for most ages (16+)
– Perfect for you IF: You love riding amazing trails, Authentic Vermont food and beverages, and having an ear to ear grin!

2018 KT Retrospective and planning for the 2nd Annual KT 100K & 50K

There are not many places in North America where you can link up 75 miles of nearly continuous, pristinely made and maintained singletrack, but Kingdom Trails is one of them. Situated in the bucolic countryside of northern Vermont, Kingdom Trails was created out of passion but sustained and grown by necessity to balance a dying agriculture industry in Northern VT.

In 2017,  Kingdom Cycling & Experiences, a locally owned and operated mountain bike instruction and tour company, had their first annual KT 100K (62 miles) Guided Trail Challenge. There were 20 hearty riders who embarked on the challenge, but only 13 who finished the full 100K. Groups departed from KC&E trailside headquarters around 8 am and finished between 4 – 7pm. Along the route, the riders were supported mechanically and nutritionally with 3 aid stations packed with maple glazed donuts, homemade brownies, maple syrup, coffee and a fully catered lunch. The ride began with amazing pastries and coffee from local pastry purveyor, Aunt Dee Dee’s Bakery, and finished with freshly made pizzas from Juniper’s at the Wildflower Inn and ice cold beers at the Hub Trailside Beer and Espresso bar.

Riders face many challenges on the ride, both physically and mentally, in order to get through 62 miles and 8000 ft of climbing on 99% singletrack. The challenge is set up to be exactly that: a challenge built around a group mentality to finish the feat and help one another reach their goal. Since this is a guided trail challenge this will not turn into a race, as groups are divided by the average pace of the group.

Moving into 2019, KC&E will be adding a 50K option as well to make the ride more accessible to riders and have a step for people to build up to the 100K. Beyond adding the 50K option, KC&E’s Certified Skills Instructors will be providing free skills clinics on the day before to prepare riders technically for the challenges that await them the following day.

To sign up for this year KT100K and be apart of an amazing and unique trail riding experience click here! If you have any questions about the event please either email info@kingdomexperiences.com or call/text 802.427.3154.

Happy Trails,

Caitlin, Collin & Taco the Trail Dog

A Close Encounter with a Bear

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

By:  Marie Vaine

As I rounded a raspberry-patch-covered corner, I slammed on my brakes as I saw the berry-eating black bear sitting ten feet in front of me in the middle of the trail. It took all 5’2’’ of me to speak sternly to the bear that was at least twice my size as my hands and knees shook. I slowly unclipped my foot from my pedal and that slightest click startled the bear, as it stood up on its hind legs, towering over me.

I talked to it as I slowly placed my bike on the ground between us and backed away slowly. It grunted and pawed the ground. When I was twenty feet away it took a few quick steps toward me, the first bluff charge. My palms sweat as I continued to walk backward. “One foot at a time,” I said to myself, “Just one foot at a time.”

Twenty-five, thirty feet of distance between the bear and I. Apparently not far enough because it ran at me again, this time taking six steps before stopping and watching my reaction. My knees buckled and I looked around for something – a stick, a rock – anything to save me, but found nothing useful and I just kept walking backward. The bear took one more step toward me and then turned and ran away. “One foot at a time,” I whispered, as I walked backward for another quarter mile.

Bear sightings are not uncommon on Kingdom Trails, though most encounters end quickly as the bear runs away. It is important to know what to do in the case that you do come across a berry-eating bear on KT. Here’s a few tips about biking in black bear country:

First, make noise when you are riding, either by talking or singing (my personal favorite) loudly as you round blind corners. Bear like to avoid people so if they hear you coming, they will most likely get out of your way. Riding in groups is another great way to avoid bears as they are usually much more intimidated by numbers.

If you do come across a bear, stay calm and give it space. A bear can run much faster than you so while running or biking away might be your natural reaction, resist. Stay calm, talk to it in a clear voice, and begin backing away slowly. It might stand up on its hind legs to smell you better, but continue to back away. Bluff charges, such as the two that I experienced, are just a bear intimidation factor so don’t run or try to play dead. Just stand your ground or continue to back away. Eventually it will run away.

We not only share the trails with other bikers, we share it with all the wildlife around. Keep your eyes out for bear, deer, moose, squirrels, and everything else, big and small, that live with us in the Kingdom. Remember, a perfect berm for you might be a perfect spot for lunch for someone else!

The Silver Linings of April

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont
By: Karen Wilson
It’s an ugly picture outside my window regardless of the great view. The steady rain and intermittent cries of wind make even an outdoor enthusiast want to stay in. The garden in the back yard still has measurable snow in mid April in contrast to the front where I can see large areas of grass and dirty snowbanks. This bleak image of April in Vermont happens to awaken the laden indoor enthusiast with endless possibilities.
 
I hear the phrase “carpe diem” as I consider this window of time to embrace the indoors while not being tugged by outdoor callings. This is the time to comb through all that clutter and purge! Losing hundreds of pounds of accumulated, unused stuff from my living space can have remarkable effects on my psyche! Knowing that I can drop off stuff down at the Burke Clubhouse for their annual Memorial Day yard sale has added motivation.
 
Anticipating the opening of the Kingdom Trails in just a matter of weeks has prompted me to get my bike in the shop to be prepped for the season. It’s good to know it will be ready when the time comes. April is a time to embrace indoor yoga sessions and consider taking a spin class or actually put to use those weights in my basement.
 
One of my favorite April traditions is visiting a spa where I can purge in a sauna and steam bath built up toxins and indulge in a tranquil space of stillness. The off season rates are irresistible and the experience is priceless. There are quite a few options out there!
 
The best part of April is that it can change overnight. The temperature can swing like a pendulum and when the sun breaks  through it’s a gift to be celebrated! Walking through the woods on a warm spring day is special because there are no bugs- I love that!
Although April is considered “off season” in the NEK, I like to flick  my attitude switch to “on” and seek out the silver linings that are calling me to seize the day!

Last Call for Chaga!

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

By: Karen Wilson

As I slipped in and out of the mud ruts driving down Brook road this morning, I saw two guys shoveling snow off a gathering tank for sap. This scene didn’t trigger fond thoughts of french toast drenched with maple syrup as one would expect. Instead it signaled my inner mycophile (a devotee of mushrooms; especially : one whose hobby is hunting wild edible mushrooms) to consider the image as “Last Call For Chaga”. 
 
One of the many rewards of meandering through the frosty, winter, woods in northern Vermont is the opportunity it lends to foraging for the coveted friendly fungus known as Chaga (just do a search to discover it’s many health benefits). Wether on fat bikes, snowshoes, back country skis or those motorized monsters I prefer to avoid, it’s an invitation to exercise your visual discrimination skills. Hunting for chaga is like going into an “I Spy” or “Where’s Waldo” book and living it out with the woods as your backdrop. In general, chaga is hard to find, so when you discover some it’s a rush!
 
Timing is a key element when harvesting chaga. Since the trees are dormant in the winter, all the good stuff is drawn into the trunk that the fungus is growing off of. This in turn feeds the chaga with all the goods that make it a healer. That’s why it’s prime time to forage. Once the sap starts running, the concentration of its magic lessens. There are different schools of thought on this, but it sure sounds logical to me. 
 
If your curiosity is calling you to search out a chunk of chaga to claim as your own, then take note that time is running out. When you see the sap buckets hanging from the maples, remember that means “Last Call For Chaga”.

Get to know Collin

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

Collin is the co-owner and grand master of good times on two wheels at Kingdom Cycling and Experiences. He was born in Florida but quickly moved to Connecticut where he developed his love for being outdoors and cycling. He graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a BS in Exercise Science and then proceeded to move to Colorado to, you guessed it, ride bikes!

He lived just outside of Boulder, CO in a small town called Nederland. He finished his tenure out west with a short stint living and working in Moab to ride one of his most favorite trails on repeat, The Whole Enchilada. After Moab, he moved back to CT where he worked for GT Bicycles traveling as their demo driver covering a massive territory from Amarillo, TX to Maine. During that time at GT he fell in love with Kingdom Trails, trying to schedule as many demos he could in that region. A little while into working for GT he met Caitlin, his now wife. He knew when he met her that she was “the one” so they decided to change career paths and start their life together in Northern VT.

For the next 4 year Collin helped spearhead the Village Sport Shop Trailside operation while nurturing their side hustle – Kingdom Cycling & Experiences. The business showed promise but needed some real time and effort put into it so both Caitlin and Collin decided to focus on their business full time. Over the next couple years they put their full attention to KC&E and as they say “the rest is history”…

 

  1. What does biking mean to you, and how does it impact your life?

 

Great question! And where to begin…Well biking means a whole lot to me and it will mean different things to me on different days. On some days cycling will be a way of processing a tough emotion or feeling, on another it will be out of the pure excitement of going fast through the woods and to challenge myself, and on another it will be to simply enjoy the breathtaking scenery that I am riding through. The one constant with cycling for me is that is one of my favorite mediums to connect with myself, friends and strangers; I can’t think of a more positive environment to get to know someone or yourself.

 

Cycling impacts my life pretty heavily, I mean we’ve created a business around it! Cycling started as (and continues to be) a passion of mine that drives a lot of the decisions I make but don’t let it rule my life. I think how it impacts my life most dramatically now is finding new and fun ways that helps others find/grow their love of cycling that will help make positive life changes towards their health and wellbeing all around.

 

  1. How did you get into cycling?

 

You remember that heavier set kid with glasses and braces, who was unmistakably awkward and not good at team sports in elementary school? Well that was me, in a big way,haha! I started riding my bike at an early age because I found that cycling was something that I owned and was not judged on. I could enjoy being out in the woods just for the sake of enjoying it and it was not something that was tied to accomplishments.

 

  1. What is your dream cycling destination, and why?

 

Tuscany or Umbria! As you will find out in 2 questions, I love food equally -if not more than- cycling! I especially love cheese, pasta, espresso and pizza, so what could be better? Honestly anywhere in Italy where there is some mountain biking, vacant dirt roads and non-touristy food culture.

 

  1. What has been the biggest adventure you’ve gone on in life so far?

 

The journey of life hahah! But seriously, this is a tough one, I’ve had a lot of great adventures but I think the greatest one so far is having our own business. Having our own business has been kind of like learning to ride a bike all over again. At first you fall down a bunch, have some bumps and bruises but the more you keep with it the easier it is to remain moving forward. Everyday I am humbled by how little I know but excited and encouraged by the challenges ahead of me (us). Having this business teaches me something new everyday, takes me to amazing places and allows me the opportunity to meet new and exciting people constantly! Ohh ya, it is also highly encouraged that I ride my bike and find amazing food sports often, so that’s not too bad.

 

  1. What are 5 things that people may not know about you?
  1. I have no feeling in the left side of my face and have a hard time hearing in my left ear (as well as no feeling in the tip of my tongue, so sorry for the lisp sometimes!)
  2. I love food equally if not more than riding my bike, especially Italian food
  3. I meditate, journal and write gratitudes everyday to assist in being present, grateful and just to enjoy life to the max!
  4. I watch franchise movies on repeat (haha) especially, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and James Bond
  5. I am finding that I actually really enjoy small cities.

 

  1. Of all of the places you have lived so far, where would you choose to live again?

 

We already live there…well at least for half the year! Burke, VT; that place is magical. Beyond having stunning bucolic beauty, I have met some of my best friends up there. Being in Burke is really like having a little slice of serene calm in what seems to be an increasingly divisive and chaotic time (or at least the way the media makes it seem). I would love to live in some sort of city as well, I’ve always lived in small towns and enjoyed that but recently we traveled to some cities where we would walk everywhere and I really enjoyed that. I think there is a lot to be said for being less and less reliant on motorized vehicles and slowing down the pace of life a little to enjoy the views – figuratively and literally.

 

Who was Bill Magill?

Kingdom Experiences, Mountain Bike Skill Camps and Tours in Vermont

By: Karen Wilson

Sitting by the fire with my morning coffee, I recollect summer days on the Kingdom Trails and one in particular stirs in my memory bank. I was guiding an awesome group of preteen girls and as we were approaching the Bill Magill trail, I said something like ” Oh, Bill Magill, he was such a great guy”. One of the girls remarked in a surprised tone “He was a real person?”. “Of course”, I replied and asked them if they wanted to hear a story about Old Bill Magill. There just happened to be a wooden bench just across from the red kingdom trail sign with his name and they settled in with wide eyes as I began my story:
 
“I first met Bill Magill many years ago when I moved back to Vermont from Hawaii. He sold his old farmhouse in West Burke to me where he had milked cows and raised his treasured draft horses. He proudly showed off two walls of trophies and an old trunk full of ribbons that he won in the horse pulling contests at county fairs. His team of draft horses pulled the heaviest slabs of stone a certain distance to win all those prizes. But what made old Bill Magill so special was the way he worked with his horses. People told me that Bill would just whisper in the ear of his horse to get them to pull those weights with all their might. They said other horsemen would yell and whip their horses to force them to pull. I liked this man the first time I met him not knowing I would get to know him better.
 
Later, I got a job at The Wildflower Inn where Bill moved his horses and he would take many of the guests on wagon rides in the summer and sleigh rides in the winter. He did those rides right here on this very trail where so many people now ride their bikes! Sometimes he would come inside and sit on a bench in the front desk area but most of the time Bill would just hang out in the barn at The Wildflower with his horses for hours at a time-even in the winter. He loved those horses like family and they knew it. It was like they could hear each other think. Yes, Bill Magill was a true “horse whisperer”.
 
So, now that you know Bill Magill was a real person, you can think about him and his gentle spirit. When you’re pushing yourself up the hill on the Bill Magill trail back to the Darling Ridge, you can imagine his whisper in your ear encouraging you to push with all your might to make it to the top!”
 
We hopped back on our bikes and it seemed as though the ride back up the hill back to the Kingdom Experiences office was a little easier than expected. It could of been due to the story telling time resting on that old bench, but maybe it was a soft whisper from Bill saying “get up”

Backwoods Benediction

By Jane LeMasurier

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with three siblings and lenient parents. Given our proximity to the woods and mountains, it was free-range biking for us for many years. Most of our childhood days were spent exploring old logging roads and trails in our backwoods. I have memories of barreling down creek beds with my younger sister, no gps, no map, no cell phone, just a sense of general direction and a couple of quarters in our pockets to call from a gas station pay phone if we could get to one. Things were certainly different back then. And somehow we survived.

Now in my adult life I teach mountain biking classes to kids in my town. I’m just as enthusiastic to teach them bike skills as I am to teach them how to appreciate the woods for the bona

fide joy they provide. I took a group of 12 kids on a ride last fall. We followed an under-ridden and overgrown trail near the school. Shortly into the ride I spotted some ledge just off the trail with a short and steep roll-down section that looked like something we might be able to clear off, scope out, and attempt to ride. So I slowed down, got off my bike, pointed it out to the kids and asked if anyone wanted to try it. They all raised their hands, some with blind enthusiasm, some with slight skepticism.

“But is this even a real bike feature?” one boy questioned.

“Touch that rock. Is that rock real?” I responded. He looked at me, looked at the rock, looked back at me, and smiled.

My sense of safety has evolved from the days of setting out into the woods feeling convinced all would work out for the best. I carry a med pack and bike tools and have an action plan if something goes wrong. And I stick to the trails, because there are trails. But I still carry with me the general feeling that, more than anything, a bike is a tool for exploration, into ourselves and the “real world” of nature. So I climbed up on the ledge and asked all 12 of the kids to climb up with me. We took a look at potential lines and determined a “hard” route and a “harder” route. There was no easy way down. The kids asked if anyone had ever ridden this before. And I told them, judging from the overgrowth, they just might be the first. They looked at each other with big eyes. We cleared away some brush at the bottom of the roll down and then I gave it a go, explaining first to the kids how to pick their line, get into position, and commit.
Over the next hour and a half the pack of us explored this rock: looking at it, walking on it, riding over it, all in an effort to get to know it, to learn how to roll it as smoothly and successfully as possible. The kids couldn’t get enough. It would have gone on, trial after trial, but our class was ending, so we headed back out the same quarter mile of trail we came in, back to where we started, so much further along than when we began.

“Nothing Compares to the Simple Pleasure of Riding a Bike” – JFK

By Quinn Campbell

Mountain bikers get so wrapped up with the start of the season. New bikes, new gear, new trails, more training during the winter– there’s an agitated frenzy that surrounds the cycling community as we wait for the snow to melt and the trails to dry. Normally, I’m as guilty as anyone, chomping at the bit to touch tires on dirt and begin spinning the pedals. But this spring has been different, and I’ve been, admittedly, a little lazy. My trail bike is still sitting in a box at my house, waiting to be assembled. And before too long, I’ll spend an afternoon upstairs in the shop, prepping my brand new bike for the next six months of abuse, routing cables into my new frame, sloping sealant into squeaky clean tires that haven’t punched through mud holes or broken loose across abrasive Vermont granite. But that hasn’t happened yet because I’ve been so infatuated and blissfully distracted with my reconnection to the most basic, youthful aspects of riding a bike.

This spring I’ve put countless hours in atop my dirt jumper. Out of my three bike quiver the dirt jumper most closely resembles my very first bicycle. Bare bones– one speed, one brake, bald tires and a short travel fork. It pales in comparison to the sleek lines of a carbon framed, well engineered full suspension trail bike, but the notable lack of expensive, high-maintenance parts, make me think a lot less about the bike itself and a lot more about the ride. It’s simple to step outside the house and leave directly from my driveway. There’s no Strava to turn on and clipless trail shoes are replaced by my most comfortable pair of well worn Vans. Riding shorts, jersey, gloves, and backpack are all left behind– I won’t be going farther than a few miles. Without needing to prepare for an afternoon in the saddle, load all my gear into a car and drive to the driest spring trail system, I’ve been able to get out frequently, and it’s just goofy, unhindered childish fun.

Rolling out the driveway I’ll cruise through familiar village backstreets, bunny-hopping curbs, hunting for natural jumps on driveway corners, manualing over speed bumps and wearing away any remaining tread with long skids. It’s been a good reminder to ride for fun this season and focus more on the trails beneath my tires than what bike I’m on or how fast I rode. Tune out the distractions and throw a leg over your bike for no other reason than because you love to ride.